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Build Your Own Butterfly Garden with Tips from Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on May 16th, 2015 by Eric Darden, Area Manager, Horticulture, Walt Disney World Resort


One of my favorite things at Epcot during the International Flower & Garden Festival is the Butterflies on the Go garden in Future World, where you can see up to 10 colorful species of butterflies. Some mornings, when the butterflies emerge and their wings are drying out, I like to show kids how to hold them on their fingers so parents can get pictures – it’s a really special moment.

Want to try creating a butterfly habitat that you can enjoy at home? It’s easier than you might think.

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  • At your local garden center, find native plants with nectar-producing flowers like butterfly bush and canna lily. Make sure that you have several different species to insure something is always blooming. These plants vary depending on where you live.
  • Plant blooms of different colors, as different butterfly species are attracted to different colors.
  • Though many butterflies love the sun, some species do like shade, so it’s a plus if you can create a mix of sun and shade in your garden.
  • For best results, you’ll also want to provide plants where butterflies can lay their eggs. Most butterflies are species specific when it comes to laying their eggs. Monarch butterflies must have milkweed, Zebra Longwings (the Florida state butterfly) need passion flower, the Cloudless Sulphur lays eggs on Cassia plants, and Pipevine Swallowtails choose, what else? Pipevine!
  • Of course, once the eggs hatch, you’ll have caterpillars, which feed on plants. So if you want to have a fully functioning butterfly garden, you’ll need to tolerate some insect damage on your plants. It’s worth it!
  • Don’t forget that butterflies also need water. There are several different ways to provide water — even a birdbath can work. They often prefer a puddle on the ground, so consider creating a bare, low spot in the garden to keep wet.
  • Most important – never use insecticide, which will harm butterflies!

It’s not too late to visit our Butterflies on the Go garden as we celebrate our final week of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival through May 17. Pick up more ideas, then start creating your own butterfly wonderland. Bambi would approve!

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How to Grow Amazing Container Gardens Seen at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 8th, 2015 by Eric Darden, Area Manager, Horticulture, Walt Disney World Resort


During the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, guests often ask our gardeners and cast members how Disney creates the spectacular, multi-hued container gardens displayed across the park.

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If you’ve been wishing upon a star for a green thumb this spring, here’s how you can decorate at home with colorful pots of blooms that look like they were grown at Walt Disney World Resort. We don’t mind sharing our secrets!

  • Be creative with containers – even a galvanized bucket, wheelbarrow or dry fountain will work, but be sure it has good drainage. Plants will drown without a drain hole, so drill one if needed.
  • Use high-quality potting soil. Avoid products like top soil or garden soil, and skip the compost when planting a container.
  • Choose healthy plants at the garden center. If plants are turning yellow or spindly, don’t use them. Pull a plant from its container to check the roots – if you don’t see white roots, choose another one.
  • Have some fun with your plant choices. Don’t be afraid to mix bright colors like orange and purple for a hot spot of color. Try cool, blue blooms to build a soothing container of calm. Or combine herbs and vegetables with flowering plants – a pot of petunias mixed with fennel can be striking and useful in the kitchen when your recipe calls for an herb.
  • Remember this rhyme popular with savvy gardeners to create a striking pot of color: Thriller, filler and spiller. Your “thriller” is the plant that really pops as the star of the container; “filler” adds color surrounding the star blooms; and “spiller” is planted around the container’s edges to spill over the sides, adding additional drama.
  • Add a good, slow-release fertilizer. And, after you complete the planting, fertilize it with a water-soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks. This tip may be the most important if you want your plants to have that pixie-dusted quality.
  • Don’t water too often. Use your finger to test the soil. If it’s damp, there’s no reason to add water.
  • Know your plants and whether the plants you choose like full, partial or no sun, then place the container where it will live happily ever after.

Visit the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival through May 17 to get container-garden design ideas for your home. Maybe I’ll see you in Italy!

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Festival Flowers Inspires a Unique ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Photo at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 5th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


It’s hard not to walk through a Disney Park and feel inspired or to have fond childhood memories come to mind – or in the case of Photographer Mariah Wild, both.

Mariah, a photography intern in our Yellow Shoes Department, recently visited the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, and during a walk through the United Kingdom Pavilion, was struck with an old memory.

“When I was walking through the beautiful flowers in the gardens … it was like I could hear all the flowers singing ‘The Garden/All in the Golden Afternoon’ from “Alice in Wonderland,” she said. Mariah wondered if it was possible to recreate that moment from the film – in which a shrunken Alice wanders through a garden of oversized, musical flowers – in real life.

Mariah worked with the Horticulture team to arrange the flowers just the way they appeared in the film. Alice even agreed to stop in to participate. Here’s the result:

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Can’t get enough “Alice In Wonderland”? A brand-new film, “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” will be released in theaters on May 27, 2016.

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Behind the Scenes: Creating Anna & Elsa Topiaries for the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on May 4th, 2015 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations


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Have you taken your photo yet with the Anna and Elsa topiaries at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival? It’s this year’s must-have selfie or photo spot. And we have two former Horticulture interns to thank. Let me explain …

When our creative experts in Horticulture decided to design Anna and Elsa in plant and flower form, they needed models to help create the frames that serve as the foundation for the topiaries.

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Sarah Lanners, a senior at the University of Minnesota Crookston, and Jordan McGee, a senior at Stephen F. Austin State University, worked with our Horticulture team during the summer. They were asked to be the pose models for the royal sisters.

“I was absolutely thrilled to represent the ‘Frozen’ princess,” Sarah said.

“I was thrilled! I love ‘Frozen’!” Jordan told me. “I have always been partial to Anna. She may not have super powers, but … she has a beautiful amount of faith in herself and her sister.”

You can see from the photo how Sarah and Jordan had to pose in a Horticulture workroom. You can imagine, a lot of technology and steps go into concept, to creation of a model, to the creation of a topiary – and both Sarah and Jordan told me they found the whole process fascinating.

“In my own geeky horticulture way I instantly thought about how I would inadvertently be a Disney Princess in the most coolest way possible and that as long as this topiary is a part of Disney then so am I,” Sarah said. “This is something that most would consider a dream come true.”

“I was thrilled to do my small part in supporting ‘Frozen,’” Jordan said. “Being sculpted in plants is the coolest thing ever!”

Head to the entrance to World Showcase and check out the royal sisters from Arrendelle … and thanks Sarah and Jordan, and the Horticulture team!

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Exclusive Sneak Peek of Disney•Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ Coming to Epcot This Summer

posted on May 1st, 2015 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


Have you ever looked at someone and wondered what’s going on inside their head? Disney•Pixar’s original new film “Inside Out” takes us inside the mind to find out, and this summer at Epcot, you can go inside “Inside Out” for a special preview of the movie. This sneak peek will offer guests an advance look at a sequence from the film, complete with special in-theater effects and an exclusive introduction from the filmmakers.

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“Inside Out” ventures inside the mind of 11-year-old Riley and introduces us to the Emotions that guide her: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust. Based in Headquarters, the five Emotions are hard at work, led by lighthearted optimist Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), whose mission is to make sure Riley stays happy. “Inside Out” is directed by Academy Award® winner Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.”, “Up”) and produced by Jonas Rivera (“Up”) with an original score by Michael Giacchino (“The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” “Up”).

This sneak peek opportunity begins May 30, following our special preview of Disney’s “Tomorrowland,” playing at the Imagination Pavilion theater at Epcot now through May 24. When visiting Epcot, you can also enjoy the “Inside Out” Emotion Garden as part of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

Disney•Pixar’s “Inside Out” opens in theaters on June 19, 2015.

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Freshly Picked Music at the Garden Rocks Concert Series at Walt Disney World Resort: Taylor Dayne

posted on April 21st, 2015 by Russ J. Stacey, Writer, Yellow Shoes Creative Group


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Now that the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is in full bloom, it reminds us of all there is to love about it. From the whimsical Disney character topiaries and spring-inspired delicious dishes to the expert demonstrations and Garden Rocks Concert Series, where some of the biggest names in music grace the stage.

We caught up with Taylor Dayne, who will soon play Garden Rocks for the first time (you may have seen her perform at the Eat to the Beat Concert Series at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival). Starting with her smash 1987 single “Tell It to My Heart,” it’s hard to top this New York native for infectious dance pop.

RUSS: Growing up on Long Island, did you ever imagine all the success you’ve achieved?

TAYLOR: As a little kid, I had the vision of “I’m gonna be a rock and roll star,” singing to the radio or every commercial that came on. I was very passionate about working hard. To make music was always my goal and my dream as a very, very young girl. I’m just so blessed.

RUSS: We’ve heard you’re a pretty big Disney fan. True?

TAYLOR: Ya know, the beautiful thing about Disney is I grew up on the incredible animation. And, of course, on Sunday nights we got to watch Disney on TV. The shows, the movies, the parks—it’s pretty special and amazing. Just a big part of my life.

RUSS: Any favorite Disney memories?

TAYLOR: For me growing up, it was “it’s a small world.” I made my children (12-year-old twins Levi and Astaria) go on it because the music is just so incredible.

RUSS: As for the theme parks, adrenaline rush or milder thrills?

TAYLOR: I’m not a drop-from-the-sky kind of girl. No. My son will do that. I stand there and watch while he falls from the sky and does the roller coasters with all the drops. Though I was in to it when I was younger.

RUSS: Have a favorite attraction?

TAYLOR: I love Soarin’ at Epcot! You’re in the chair and floating. It’s incredible. You’re in that entire experience. You’re moving in it. It’s brilliant.

RUSS: Describe your music.

TAYLOR: When people ask me that, I say dance, pop, some R&B to a degree. But classic. So if you’re listening to the radio, you might hear “I’ll Always Love You,” “Send Me A Lover” or “Love Will Lead You Back.” I’ve always been incredibly passionate and people feel what I’m singing. Big voice, big passion.

RUSS: People are anxious to experience your show at the Flower & Garden Festival for the very first time. What do you have in store?

TAYLOR: I hope the fans get an experience so they feel like they’ve been to a show. There’s a beginning, a middle and end. There’s a story. I want them to feel like they got a piece of me. Music is just such a universal language. Why are people so inspired by music? Because it touches them in such a sensorial way. At this point, to a lot of them these songs are the soundtrack of people’s lives. You feel like, “Wow, I remember that.” So yeah, I always look forward to performing at Epcot. It’ll be awesome.

RUSS: Thanks so much for your time. One last question. What’s something your fans may not know about you?

TAYLOR: I’m a nature freak [laughs]. That’s what I do. I go out there and find my peace. My quiet time.

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival continues through May 17. Taylor Dayne performs May 1 through 3. All performances take place at the America Gardens Theatre at 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and are included with Epcot admission.

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Epcot Flowers Bloom at Night

posted on April 11th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week’s “Disney Parks After Dark” image was an unusual one – and apparently a fan favorite. The original photo, which took a look at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival at night, showcased a topiary of three pals from “Beauty and the Beast.”

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Because it was so popular, we didn’t want you to miss two others shots our photographer snapped while roaming the park late at night. Here are two shots of the Cinderella and Prince Charming topiaries. Notice the clock in the background? Looks like it’s almost time for her to run!

Cinderella and Prince Charming Topiaries at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Cinderella and Prince Charming Topiaries at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

You can enjoy the 2015 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival daily through May 17.

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Disney Parks After Dark: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Blossoms at Night

posted on April 9th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


I know the amazing floral displays and topiaries at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival look amazing during the day, but who would’ve thought they looked this beautiful illuminated at night?

This “Beauty and the Beast”-inspired topiary features Beast, Belle – and Cogsworth in the background.

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Have you visited the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival this year? Do you prefer visiting during the day or in the evening?

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Art In The Garden Returns to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival March 27-29, 2015

posted on March 25th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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I’m happy to announce the return of Art in The Garden to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. This annual artist showcase will be held from March 27-29 in several areas throughout World Showcase. Here is a brief listing of which artists will be featured during this year’s event.

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Guests can meet David Doss and Greg McCullough on the World Showcase Promenade from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. each day. David will release one of his newest images featuring Olaf enjoying summer, while Greg will have artwork featuring Winnie the Pooh and Friends.

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In the Puffin’s Roost at Norway Pavilion, guests can meet Larry Dotson from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. each day. I love his artwork featuring the Stave Church from the World Showcase Pavilion.

Artist Reinhard Herzog will be in Glas Und Porzellan at Germany Pavilion from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day. Known for creating amazing glass-blown keepsakes, Reinhard will release two new ornaments that resemble a bride and groom. He will also have other glass-blown items available for personalization during the event.

Finally, while not art related, I encourage you to attend the free cooking demonstrations held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Port of Entry at the entrance to World Showcase. The 15-minute demos begin at 3:00 p.m. each day and offer guests an opportunity to meet a Disney chef.

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En Vogue To Appear at the Garden Rocks Concert Series at Epcot March 20-22

posted on March 20th, 2015 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations


The Garden Rocks Concert Series at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival has a few newbies this year, including this weekend’s group – En Vogue. I own a couple of their CD’s, and have sung along with their hits including “Free Your Mind”, “Don’t Let Go” and “My Lovin”. The trio has a new album coming out later this year. I had a chance to chat with Rhona Bennett about their festival debut – it’s a homecoming, of sorts, for her!

En Vogue to Perform at "Garden Rocks" Concert Series

Victoria: Welcome to Walt Disney World Resort, and your first Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival!

Rhona: I haven’t attended the festival before, so I’m looking forward to this. Disney has a knack for creating enchanting environments.

Victoria: You’re already kind of part of the family – I read you were on the “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club”. What can you tell us about that time?

Rhona: I gained so much from my experience at Disney … I had a great time exploring the fine arts (dancing/singing/acting/interviewing/recording/etc..) on such a platform and with such a talented group of kids. And … I frequented Space Mountain, ‘The World’ at Epcot and the splendor of the night lights at the Magic Kingdom [Park].

Victoria: What can you share with us about the new album coming out? Any flowers or garden themes in it (smile)?

Rhona: We’re all pretty silly, so we had a good time being creative and recording the forthcoming album. There were funny writer’s block moments where we would break out into song and dance while passing the time … And, although we don’t have any songs with a flowers or garden theme, we do have a song called, ‘Blue Skies’, that could compliment them.

Victoria: What attractions, characters, food or experiences are “must do’s” during your time with us?

Rhona: I would love to visit Downtown Disney again. I heard that it has continued to expand with greater attractions and places to eat. I will definitely take another stroll through ‘The World’ at Epcot. And, I wonder what’s in place of ‘Horizons in Future World’. I used to love that ride!

I sure hope Rhona isn’t disappointed Horizons was closed back in the late 1990s! Maybe she should take a spin on Test Track Presented by Chevrolet or Mission: SPACE instead! What attraction would you recommend for her first time back in a while?

You can catch her with En Vogue this Friday, Saturday and Sunday as part of the Garden Rocks Concert Series at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 p.m.

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